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The term Traditional Taekwondo (also sometimes called Classic Taekwondo) generally refers to the oldest form of taekwondo, practiced primarily in the 1950s by the South Korean military. This style of taekwondo predates even the name "taekwondo" and really represents an amalgam of martial arts styles practiced then by the Nine Kwans.

Alternative Definitions[]

  • First Definition: The first of the Nine Kwans opened its doors in 1944. The first major international taekwondo federation -- the International Taekwon-do Federation (ITF) -- was founded in 1966. So one could argue that Traditional Taekwondo is taekwondo as it was practiced from 1944 up until the establishment of ITF.
  • Second Definition: The name "taekwondo" was not coined however until 1955, so one could argue instead that everything before 1955 was not taekwondo. In this case, the term Traditional Taekwondo would include taekwondo only as it was practiced from 1955 to 1966.
  • Third Definition: If, however, one includes ITF/Chang Hon-style Taekwondo under the banner "traditional," then one could argue that Traditional Taekwondo includes ITF-style and all styles that predate ITF.
  • Fourth Definition: In the ITF/Chang Hon-style, there are basically two sub-styles: Sine Wave (newer) and non-Sine Wave (older). In ITF circles, the term Traditional Taekwondo is sometimes used to refer to the non-Sine Wave version of the ITF style.

Alternative definitions of the term "Traditional Taekwondo"

It's generally agreed that any style established after ITF-style is not referred to as traditional. So for example, Kukkiwon-style taekwondo is generally not called "traditional."

TKD Panorama


Traditional styles of taewkondo are heavily influenced by karate, combined with elements of Chinese martial arts and traditional Korean martial arts. Depending on the school (kwan), the mixture of these elements varied. For example:

​Depending on which kwan one studied in then, the style of martial art being studied could be fairly different. Eventually of course these styles were merged to become what we now call taekwondo. (See also: Timeline of Taekwondo.)

Traditional Hyeong (forms)[]

Many of the forms often used in Traditional Taekwondo are included in the following table. In developing his Moo Duk Kwan curriculum, Hwang Kee assigned symbols, listed below, to many of the forms.

Family / Origin Forms
Basic beginner forms developed by Hwang Kee in 1947.

Kicho Hyeong Il Bu
Kicho Hyeong Ee Bu
Kicho Hyeong Sam Bu

Later variants of the beginner forms, developed by the World Tang Soo Do Association; these emphasize earlier training in kicking.

Sae Kye Hyeong Il Bu
Sae Kye Hyeong Ee Bu
Sae Kye Hyeong Sam Bu

Pyung Ahn forms, also called Pinan and Heian forms. From Shotokan Karate, developed approx. 1870 as beginner forms. Symbol: The Tortoise

Pyung Ahn Cho-Dan
Pyung Ahn Ee-Dan
Pyung Ahn Sam-Dan
Pyung Ahn Sa-Dan
Pyung Ahn Oh-Dan

Naihanchi forms, from Shotokan Karate. Also called Chul-Gi, Keema, and Tekki. Symbol: The Horse

Naihanchi Cho-Dan
Naihanchi Ee-Dan
Naihanchi Sam-Dan

Bassai forms, Escaping the Fortress, also called Pal-Sek. Adapted into Shotokan Karate but originally from Kung Fu. Symbol: The Cobra

Bassai Sho
Bassai Dai (or simply Bassai)

Adapted from Shotokan Karate. Symbol: The Crane

Jin Do
Rohai (also called Lohai or Meikyo)

From the karate form Kūsankū. Symbol: The Eagle Kong-Sang-Koon
From the karate form Enpi. Symbol: The Bird Wang Shu (also called Empi)
From the karate form Seisan. Symbol: The Preying Mantis Sei-Shan
Ji-On forms, adapted from Shotokan Karate.

Ji-On, Symbol: The Ram
Jit-te (also called Ship Soo), Symbol: The Bear

From the karate form Gojūshiho. Symbol: The Tiger

O Sip Sa Bo (also called Gojūshiho)
E Sip Sa Bo (also called Nijūshiho)

Adapted by Hwang Kee from Kung Fu and T'ai Chi.

So Rim Jang Kwon
Hwa Sun
Tae Kuk Kwan

Chil Sung, the Seven Stars developed by Hwang Kee in approx. 1952

Chil Sung Il Ro
Chil Sung Ee Ro
Chil Sung Sam Ro
Chil Sung Sa Ro
Chil Sung Oh Ro
Chil Sung Yook Ro
Chil Sung Chil Ro

Yook Ro, the Six-Fold Path developed by Hwang Kee in approx. 1958, inspired by the Muye Dobo Tongji.

Yook Ro Cho Dan - Du Mun
Yook Ro Ee Dan - Joong Jol
Yook Ro Sam Dan - Po Wol
Yook Ro Sam Dan - Yang Pyun
Yook Ro Oh Dan - Sal Chu
Yook Ro Yook Dan - Choong Ro

See Taekwondo Forms for additional information.

See Also[]